Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Authorities investigate a home Friday, July 19, 2013, in Houston where police say four homeless men were found in deplorable conditions. Officers who responded to a call expressing concern said said they found three men locked in a garage and a fourth in the home who were malnourished and may have been being held so a captor could cash checks the men were receiving. One person was taken into custody. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Cops: 4 men found held in ‘deplorable’ Texas home
First Published Jul 19 2013 04:41 pm • Last Updated Jul 19 2013 04:41 pm

Houston • Four men found living in "deplorable conditions" in a Houston garage on Friday told police that they were being held captive after being lured by promises of food and cigarettes so that their captor could cash their public-assistance checks, authorities said.

Three of the men were malnourished and taken to a hospital after being discovered by officers responding to a 911 call about the home, Houston police spokeswoman Jodi Silva said. Sgt. Steven Murdock described the living conditions as like a "dungeon."

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Investigators were still trying to determine how long the men lived there, but they said it may have been weeks.

Silva said the men told investigators they were forced to live in the garage — which included just one chair, no bed and a possibly malfunctioning air conditioner — so their captor could cash their assistance checks. She said the men were "given scraps to eat."

"They clearly stated to us they were being kept against their will," Silva said.

Silva said one person has been detained but no charges have been filed. He apparently did not live in the house, she said. Four women were also found living in the house, three of whom appeared to have mental disabilities, Silva said. She described the other woman as a caretaker. Unlike the garage, she described the living conditions inside the home as more normal.

A neighbor called authorities Friday morning expressing concern about men in the house in North Houston. Murdock, the police sergeant, said at least one of the men is a military veteran. He described them as malnourished and "almost invalids," saying they lived in "deplorable conditions."

Alberta Ewing, whose brother lives next door, said the men looked "very weak" and were hauled out on stretchers by paramedics. She said one of the men had approached her asking for help just weeks earlier during a Fourth of July gathering, but that she didn’t take him seriously because he wasn’t crying and she couldn’t get him to explain further.

"He said, ‘Could you help me?’" Ewing recalled. "I said, ‘What’s the problem?"

Neighbors said they occasionally saw the men sitting outside. Virginia Rogers, who lives five houses away, said she greeted them with a wave when she drove by.


story continues below
story continues below

"I’m shocked," Rogers said. "I’m baffled. I didn’t have a clue."

The men were found in a working-class, residential neighborhood of one-story, brick homes. Harris County property records show the home was built in 1969 and is about 1,400 square feet.

Police were going in and out of the house’s bright purple door and black gate Friday afternoon, removing evidence as neighbors stood outside watching.

A portion of the block was cordoned off with police tape.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.